A Leucadia plant grower is doing some daring things with hanging baskets. Bob Weidner is using baskets to grow plants that are little known, or better known in some other capa- city--say, as ground covers. That is exciting news for people who garden on balconies or paved patios where the space overhead is the only place for growing things. And it should encourage any gardener to experiment a bit.
One of Weidner's success stories involves the fiery Australian desert pea ( Clianthus formosus ). Gardeners have been trying for years to grow this pea in the ground, but with no success. Weidner has found that it will thrive, at least for a while, in a hanging container. Once the plant is in full bloom, you can expect a month or two of spectacle before it collapses.
Almost as spectacular, and much longer-lived, is a new streptocarpus relative, Streptocarpella Concord Blue. This plant, which prefers bright shade, blooms year-round, covering itself with so many flowers that it becomes a ball of blue.
Or how about a hanging carnation? A frequent complaint is that carnations drag their flowers in the dirt, so Weidner is growing one called Flame, which has especially droopy stems, in a hanging basket. An Australian ground cover, Scaevola , has proved pretty in a hanging container. And the mosquito bush, Lopezia , with pinkish-lavender flowers about the size and shape of its namesake, is perfect in a hanging basket from which the flowers spill downward like a descending flock of tiny butterflies. Better known as an indoor plant, Columnea Aladdin's Lamp turns out to be tough enough to grow outdoors in shade, where, with morning sun, it will bloom much of the year.
Weidner's Begonia Gardens (begonias are their specialty) is located at 695 Normandy Road in Leucadia, just off I-5 (exit on Leucadia Boulevard). It is open daily 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 15 to Sept. 1.